Barnsley Chops with Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables and Feta and Mint Couscous
Difficulty Factor: Easy-Peasy:
4 Barnsley Lamb Chops
2 Red Peppers
2 Yellow Peppers
4 large Tomatoes
2 Red Onions
12 cherry tomatoes halved
30 grams of Rosemary
30 grams of Thyme
50 grams of Parsley
50 grams of Mint
3 cloves of Garlic
2 Red Chillies
300 grams of Couscous
250 grams of Feta Cheese
Sea salt (a pinch or maybe two)
Juice of one lemon
First things first put the oven on at 200 degrees Centigrade – and whilst you’re doing that slice the aubergine and gently fry in a heavy based pan. The days of salting Aubergines to let bitter juices run are thankfully over so all one needs to do is let them brown and bung them back in the large roasting dish where all the vegetables will be cooked.
Now add the remaining raw vegetables into the dish. I am a great believer in the glories of a one-pot dish especially in the winter when any effort can seem that little bit harder…besides if you are cooking this for guests you’ll want some time for beautification whilst the food is doing its thing in the oven. Some might be afraid of the garlic content but keep them whole rather than chopped and you needn’t require a breathalyser. At this point also fling in the thyme (roughly chopped) and the rosemary (leaves only) and add as much or as little salt as you wish. Finally a generous coating of olive oil and put in the oven for about 30 – 40 mins, turning at the 20 minute mark to avoid sticking.
Meanwhile in a large bowl empty out the couscous. Bring a full kettle to the boil and pour boiling water over the couscous covering the grains by a centimetre or so. Leave the couscous to rise and cook all on its own, again add salt to personal taste.
On a separate chopping board, chop up the parsley and mint. Now is the time to get a little ‘cheffy’ and chop as finely as you can bare/be bothered to, as this enhances the pretty factor. You will also be adding the finely chopped chilli into the couscous and finally the juice of the lemon and a generous swirl of olive oil. Yes, I love me some olive oil, but it makes everything taste better and it is not the devil’s helper unlike butter….
The Feta should be cubed and added to the couscous and finally the cherry tomatoes that would have been cut in half. Try not to stir too vigorously as this will break up the component ingredients and then you end up with something that looks like savoury porridge. Not cute.
Now onto the meat: which should be dealt with last as the timings on cooking it are pretty key, for this dish you can use any type of chop but I like the Barnsley Chop because it is a double chop, thus you are guaranteed to be full rather than scratching around for a snack an hour or two later.
With lamb, the fat content can be a little bit frightening, especially if you see a future where you can rock a body con dress or a slim-fit shirt and blazer on a regular. I always sear the lamb fat down for a couple of minutes…it gets rid of the excess lard factor and then when you transfer the lamb for 8 minutes in the oven (do not be tempted to do for any longer – lamb chops are best pink in the middle, not cooked to oblivion) all is delicious and not heart attack inducing.
Now it is all about assembly time. In this instance I kept it simple: a mound of couscous in the middle, a chop to the side and the veg on the other. To find out altogether sophisticated plating tips tune into the next Gastrotastic blog…
Waste not Want Not: Who’s for Mazzi’s Mint Martinis?
A brilliant way to use up the remaining Mint ( bought in a supermarket rather than grown in your Victorian Kitchen Garden thus bagged with a taunting use-by date) and at the same time keep guests chilled whilst the chops do their 8 minute thing is to serve a Mazzi Mint Martini.
Mash up the remaining mint you didn’t use in the couscous in a mortar and pestle. Put the mint mash in a sieve and through the sieve pour a good double measure of the Gin of your choice (I am a Tanqueray or Hendricks Girl) into a martini glass. It will look like some sort of Green-Health Drink at this point, but do not be alarmed. Next top up with tonic and serve to your waiting guests (or indeed yourself – after all you are cooking and require creative sustenance). For those who don’t drink or have some adventurous kids in the mix, lemonade rather than gin can be poured through the mint mash in the sieve, thus making for an altogether more elegant soft drink.
Waste Not Want Not Part 2: The Following Day Feast
At Gastrotastic we believe that leftovers need not feel budget, A great way to make this meal work for a packed lunch to work or for the following evening is to chop up the remaining meat off any chops that were not consumed, grill for one minute (au revoir pink meat but you are going to be something different now) slaver in a chilli paste ( DIY style by simply chopping up the remaining chillis, plus a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon any coagulant type condiment you may have, say honey or if you are feeling uber adventurous damson jelly) and then add all this loveliness to the cold couscous remaining. The net result is In a word bliss. As in each mouthful you have cooling mint, rich roast veg that has now taken an antipasti type guise, and intense flavoured meat that does not speak of cold dreary nights in but warmer sunnier climes…You’re smiling and it’s cheaper than a holiday!